Today in History:

People are the reason for the war and behind the reason for which it was fought. There were Heroes and Villains on both sides, politicians, civilians and military alike. It is the human factor which makes history so compelling. 
Often, the “why” answer is only discovered through learning the personalities of the players involved. Through this section you will find the background and bibliographies of the Generals, the Politicians, the Women and others who shaped the conflict and determined the outcome.

Further study is recommended through the source documents located in the Reference Section. And if you have a relative who fought, or information on a participant who’s story you would like to share through this site, let us know.

The American Civil War stands as one of the most pivotal moments in the nation's history, a time when the fabric of the United States was stretched to its limits. Amidst the chaos and bloodshed of this defining conflict emerged countless tales of valor and sacrifice. Among the highest honors awarded for acts of bravery during this period is the Medal of Honor, an emblem of courage that embodies the spirit of those who fought for their beliefs.

Established in 1861, the Medal of Honor was initially conceived to recognize acts of gallantry by Union soldiers during the Civil War. Over the course of the conflict, it became a symbol of heroism and selflessness, awarded to those who demonstrated extraordinary courage in the face of adversity. Among the recipients of this prestigious award are individuals whose stories echo through the annals of American history.

Among the recipients of the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War, Jacob Parrott holds a special place in history as the first recipient. Serving with Company K of the 33rd Ohio Infantry, Parrott's valor and determination were demonstrated during one of the most audacious missions of the war – the Great Locomotive Chase. In April 1862, Parrott and a group of Union volunteers, led by James J. Andrews, embarked on a daring raid deep into Confederate territory with the objective of disrupting enemy supply lines. Despite facing overwhelming odds and enduring harsh conditions behind enemy lines, Parrott displayed remarkable courage and resourcefulness. Captured by Confederate forces following the failed mission, Parrott endured months of imprisonment and harsh treatment before being exchanged. His unwavering resolve and commitment to duty earned him the distinction of being the first soldier to receive the Medal of Honor, setting a precedent for future generations of American heroes.

One such individual is Sergeant William H. Carney, a member of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first regiments of African American soldiers in the Union Army. During the assault on Fort Wagner in 1863, Carney's unit came under heavy fire. Despite being wounded multiple times, Carney refused to abandon the regiment's colors, insisting on carrying them forward. His unwavering resolve inspired his fellow soldiers and earned him the distinction of being the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor.

Similarly, the story of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment is one of courage and leadership. During the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, Chamberlain and his men found themselves defending Little Round Top, a crucial position on the Union line. With ammunition running low and the enemy closing in, Chamberlain ordered a daring bayonet charge that repelled the Confederate assault. His decisive action helped secure a Union victory and earned him the Medal of Honor for his gallantry under fire.

The Medal of Honor was not limited to infantrymen; it was also awarded to sailors and marines who distinguished themselves in combat. Among these recipients was Admiral David Farragut, whose daring exploits during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864 earned him the admiration of his peers and the gratitude of a nation. Leading his fleet past a formidable array of Confederate defenses, Farragut uttered the now-famous command, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" His boldness in the face of danger epitomized the spirit of the Union Navy and earned him the Medal of Honor for his exceptional leadership.

The sacrifices made by these individuals, and countless others like them, remind us of the extraordinary courage displayed during the American Civil War. Their actions serve as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the willingness to stand up for what is right, even in the darkest of times. As we reflect on their bravery, let us honor their memory and ensure that their legacy continues to inspire future generations to uphold the values of courage, integrity, and selflessness.